Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quick notes on 2009-2010 cbb teams 31-40

31. Maryland- Maryland had a nice run in the tourneys last March, but their numbers suggest that this performance was an outlier rather than indicative of what how much we should be "fearing the turtle" for the coming year. The home loss to Morgan State was pretty bad, but it was just one of 14 losses they suffered for the year. Furthermore, their in-conference efficiency margin ranked 10th in the ACC, with a relatively poor offense not compensating for a mediocre defense. Maryland returns everyone but Dave Neal, so they should be better than last season, but I wouldn't expect a huge improvement. Freshmen bigs Jordan Williams and James Padgett look to have some adjusting to do, and otherwise this club is still going to pretty small. Sure, Greivis Vasquez should have a good year, but just expect these Terrapins to actually earn last year's successes.

32. Texas A&M-The Aggies look to replace the scoring touch of Josh Carter with talented freshmen wings Naji Hibbert and Khris Middleton. They also bring in 6-8 Kourtney Roberson to help out up front, which should alleviate the early loss of 6-11 Chinemelu Elonu. Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis return to captain this team to greater heights. Although Texas A&M beat BYU to get the second round of the NCAA tournament, I thought that was really the best the Aggies could possibly do last season. I don't think they'll be a radically better team this year, but they'll show more signs of a program on the rise this time around.

33. Creighton- Graduated guards Josh Dotzler & Booker Woodfox will be missed by the Bluejays , but luckily there is a lot of talent left in the backcourt. P'Allen Stinnett is a fine scorer, albeit better from inside the arc than without, and Cavel Witter can run the point just fine, although it'd be nice if he cut down on the turnovers a tad. 6-4 Justin Carter also hits the glass quite well for a 200-pound wing, and 6-9 Kenny Lawson will continue to anchor the paint on both ends of the floor. The only major concern for this year would seem to be outside shooting, but Creighton brought in a bunch of talented frosh and Juco guards, so not only is there depth, but someone should be able to start hitting threes.

34. Akron- The Zips lose a couple of role players, but otherwise have everyone back from last year's 23-win, MAC-championship season. They should be good enough this year to get in without the conference tourney championship. This squad is fairly short overall, with their top players measuring 5-9 (Anthony Hitchens) and 6-6 (Brett McKnight), and the rest of the starters standing at 6-7 (Chris McKnight), 6-2 (Steve McNees), and 5-11 (Daryl Roberts). But they are bringing a highly touted 6-11 freshman Zeke Marshall, who might be able to play the role BJ Mullens did for Ohio State last year.

35. Vanderbilt- John Jenkins is one of the top wing prospects in the country, and should give the Commodores a nice boost off of the bench with his outside shooting. Andrew Ogilivy's continued domination under the basket, along with the return of literally *everyone* would normally mean a natural progression from a weak bubble team to a solid competitive squad contending for a top 25 ranking. I don't think they'll move up too much, because their per-possession defense was pretty mediocre for the SEC (1.04), and I don't see that getting a big improvement. But a year of experience for Brad Tinsley, et al, should mean less turnovers, which should help boost their offense enough to move forward.

36. Northwestern- If Carmody doesn't take NU to its first NCAA tournament berth this year, I don't think he ever will. This club has a great scorer in Kevin Coble, a solid point in Michael Thompson, a defensive wrecker in Jeremy Nash, and a host of sophomore bigs led by John Shurna. Kyle Rowley has the eye-catching size, but don't sleep on the 6-11 Luka Mirkovic either. Craig Moore's effective scoring will be missed, but if either of the incoming freshmen (Drew Crawford & Alex Marcotullio) can provide a little shooting off the bench, the Wildcats should prove worthy of a bid without having to sweat Selection Sunday.

37. Syracuse- Boeheim looks to have great rebounding with Wesley Johnson & Arinze Onuaku, but guard play/turnovers will give the Orange fits. Freshman Brandon Triche and returning vet Scoop Jardine are pretty much all Boeheim has in the backcourt, unless he moves 6-5 Andy Rautins back from the three-spot, and he may have to. Losing Johnny Flynn, Eric Devendorf, and Paul Harris early is going to have a measurable negative impact this year. Luckily, the Big East won't be quite as tough as last season, so the Orange won't get unfairly squeezed out of a shot at a tourney berth.

38. Oklahoma State- A top 10 recruiting class should give a nice boost to the Cowboys. Losing Byron Eaton and Terel Harris won't cause too much grief in Stillwater, but it may seem like OSU is treading water at times this year. I think this season is about building momentum for the future, unless the recruits are even better than advertised. Although wing Roger Franklin may land starting minutes, 5-9 Raymond Penn, 6-9 Torin Walker, and 6-10 Jarred Shaw all may need a year of seasoning before this club starts climbing back up the rankings.

39. Utah State- Don't get me wrong, I don't think that Juco Nate Bendall is going to replace do-everything Gary Wilkinson, and I don't think that USU is going to win the WAC in a walk again. But I think the WAC is going to be a much better conference than last year, and I think the Aggies bring back enough to return to the NCAA's again. Good shooters abound here, and Taj Wesley and Brady Jardine should pick up the slack inside. Jared Quayle is a standout guard who should captain this team to success, and freshmen wings Preston Medlin & Tyrone White should be able to provide some competent depth, at least.

40. Florida State- While I'm not terribly sold on this squad that has graduated its leading scorer as well as its leading rebounder, I think Chris Singleton and Solomon Alabi can pick up the slack so FSU doesn't drop too far. And 6-5 freshman Michael Snaer could be starting from day one. However, what the 'Noles probably need the most is for guards Derwin Kitchen & Luke Loucks to cut way down on the turnovers. That's the one thing that I think could keep FSU out of the tourney, 'cause their defense will probably be quite good again.


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